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Mar 25 2022

ARRC Innovation Day Demonstrates Industry and Defence Partnership

More than 20 IT and security industry partners showcased innovative solutions for Defence during the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Innovation Day at Imjin Barracks, Gloucester, 23 March 2022.

We need to live in the information age," said British Army Major General Kevin Copsey, Chief of Staff ARRC. "We operate and we prepare to fight on any given day and that allows us to think about how best to develop ourselves and experiment as well.

The ARRC has undertaken a number of concept development, experimentation and innovation activities over the past 18 months as the conceptual lead for urban operations and worked closely with multiple industry experts experimenting with planning software, hybrid power, command posts, and artificial intelligence. All those technologies were on display, including the use of secure LiFi and WiFi interconnectivity to reduce the use of cabling, and augmented reality to allow command and control over a virtual 'bird table' mapping system._nato4

"A lot of the programme success is because we've worked closely as the military and industry together towards a common goal," said British Army Lieutenant Colonel Ted Lowe, the principal planning officer for the event. "It's not about profit and loss. It's about making sure that what is delivered to the warfighter is fit for purpose in a timely manner."

We've got another two years of experimentation on the project source and what we will look at during that period is to push forward with the relationships that we've had and expand the experimentation pipeline by increasing the work that we've already achieved.

Lowe, who leads the Command, Control, Communication, Information and Exploitation team for the ARRC's Signals Branch, highlighted the collaboration "will bring the advantage on the modern battlefield, providing solutions that are lighter, smaller and rapidly deployable."

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Comprised of 20 NATO allies, the headquarters is in a unique position to leverage the expertise from within the headquarters, but also partner with organisations to allow industry to trial, test and develop capabilities across government.

Representatives from Multinational Corps South-East in Romania were impressed by not just the emerging technologies, but also by the industry partnership; a new concept for the newest NATO corps headquarters.

"Most of the stands that were presented here were something new for us and gave us a potential vision for our objectives," said Romanian Army Colonel Marius-Gabriel Virtes-Lerner, MNC-SE Communication and Signals Branch assistant chief of staff. "We try to get the most benefit out of the innovations that are presented here, and the most impressive part for us was the artificial intelligence, the augmented reality, the communication systems that were developed specifically for the ARRC."

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The ARRC and MNC-SE staff have a close relationship, as the ARRC has coached and mentored MNC-SE during their road to operational readiness as NATO strengthens its eastern flank.

We are taking a lot of experience and information from this event. This may be an approach for us back in Romania to try to interact more with industry in our endeavour to become a better headquarters, both technically and procedurally.

While the idea is slightly revolutionary for a defence organisation to do an industry day about innovation and experimentation, the event leaned towards building relationships of understanding and mutual exploration for future defence and security needs.

"There's no sales pitch here. This is about innovation and experimentation," said Nick Garland, head of Defence and Secure Government for CDW, an IT integration company. "It's been a partnership where we've understood the outcomes. We've worked collaboratively to deliver the outcomes, and that includes understanding that sometimes failure is success".

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So, when we have got things wrong, as every contract does, we've acknowledged it and moved on rapidly rather than worrying about it; but equally, when we've got things right, we've penetrated that and gone further and further with that technology."

"I think what we've achieved today under the constraints of what's happening globally, the COVID pandemic, we've actually managed to get a good representation from across Defence," added Lowe. "Both from the civilian sector, the military sector and industry in a room talking about some of the problems and showcasing some of the capabilities that are available now and are being developed by them, which will enhance the support to NATO military operations."

Copsey highlighted "the ARRC is a wonderful sandpit to be exploited" and encouraged anyone with an experimentation idea or interest to reach out and build on the relationships and resources available.

"We need to be part of a wider enterprise," Copsey concluded.

The exhibitors and vendors on site included representatives from Weatherhaven, VMWare, Zero Alpha Solutions, SecureCloud+, Viasat UK, Verde Spaces, Garrison, Thinklogical, GRC, PureLifi, ELBIT, Cisco, CDW, Alpha 56, Hewlett Packard, SPECTRA, IDE, Anduril, Babcock International, Rolls Royce, Qinetiq, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, who brought representatives from Plextek, Antillion, AVOptics, University of Strathclyde, IBM, and BAE Systems.

Story by Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs Office

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United Kingdom